BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Nearly 10 million utility customers lost power due to Hurricane Sandy.
Justin Parish, a lineman for Entergy Arkansas, traveled to New Jersey to join the 67,000 utility workers from 80 companies across the United States in working to restore power after the hurricane.
"Entergy Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas (were there). We had one parking lot, and we had it filled up, and then they had other crews, Florida Power & Light, AmerenUE, Duke (Energy), all the big electric companies that you can think of were there."
Parish was not surprised by the 16-hour work days during the 16-day trip, having worked the 2009 ice storm in Region 8 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but he did experience culture shock in fast-paced New Jersey.
"There's just houses stacked, houses side by side, and these neighborhoods, they had no backyard, hardly no front yard. They park on both sides of the street. They have to fold their mirrors in for a vehicle to get down through there."
He said a few of the personalities he encountered matched the bitter cold of the Northeast, but often subsided quickly.
"Once we talk to them and tell them, 'You know, we're from out of town. We're not from here. We're helping PSE&G. We're from Arkansas. We came 1,200 miles away, two-and-a-half day, three day trip, then their tone changed.'"
A supervisor talked to Justin's team about the possibility of dealing with rude behavior and gave the team advice about how to handle it. "(He said) if you have a problem with anybody in the neighborhood, get in your trucks, leave, and when they wonder why you're leaving, you tell the neighbors who caused you to leave and they'll take care of it."
Parish said he encountered more appreciative and friendly people than rude ones. He said the grateful attitudes made the time away from his wife, his seven and five-year-olds, and his 8-month-old twins, worth the trip.
"They give you a handshake, or hug, or they're crying and they say, 'Thank you.' That makes it (worthwhile)," he said. "That's what you came out there for. "